08/19/08 8:34 PM ET
Oriole Park welcomes 50 millionth fan
Gracie, 24, from Ellicott City wins $50,000 and season tickets
By Amanda Comak / MLB.com
Gracie didn't end up getting his free T-shirt, though, but the 24-year-old had to settle for $50,000 and five years worth of season tickets as the Ellicott City, Md., native was tabbed the 50 millionth fan in Oriole Park history.
"Fifty thousand is great, five years of season tickets is amazing," Gracie said, then acknowledging that most of that money would go to paying off student loans for the second-year law student at the University of Baltimore.
"Complete shock," Gracie said of his initial reaction. "They actually asked me to see my ticket again and my buddy bought my ticket, so I was like I don't know what's wrong with this ticket -- but it's an amazing feeling."
A lifelong Orioles fan, Gracie and his four friends bought tickets to the Orioles-Red Sox game on Tuesday afternoon. They arrived at the ballpark around 4:15 p.m. ET and, after a brief stop at Sliders Bar & Grill to wait out the entrance line at the park, headed over to Eutaw Street Gate H.
"We were joking around about [winning]," Gracie said. "One guy was talking about how much you'd get after taxes. My other buddy, Ben, I was about to switch spots with him in line, so I was completely kidding around until they put that big fat check right here.
"I called my mom, talked to her for a few minutes, she was pretty excited -- didn't believe me. I had to tell her about seven times."
Gracie has been coming to Orioles games since he was a toddler with his aunt, Patty Glelfrich, who was also in attendance at Tuesday night's game. Gracie said he'd been to at least 15 games a year since he was four, most of them with Glelfrich. Unfortunately, he hadn't been able to get in touch with his aunt prior to heading down to the field for the pregame check presentation.
But despite all those appearances at Oriole Park, Gracie had never been on the field -- something that sweetened the prize. Gracie, who seemed most excited about the five years of season tickets, also received a No. 50 Orioles jersey and a seat upgrade.
"I've always dreamed of having season tickets -- they'd be great to have -- but obviously, [I'm] not in the financial spot to have it up until today apparently, so that's great," he said. "I'll come to as many games as I can."
Oriole Park, which reached the 50 million mark in 17 seasons, became the fastest park in the history of baseball to reach such a milestone. Since opening in 1992, Oriole Park has hosted the third-most fans in baseball behind just Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium.
"That's a big number," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said before Tuesday's game. "Obviously, baseball has been a very big part of this city and this community for a long time. It's withstood the test of time. That in itself is an accomplishment that speaks for itself."
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.